BY Dr. M. Y. ElmiA scene from the infamous Mpeketoni attacks
The security of Kenya as a country has reached unmanageable levels in the recent times due to the frequency and bold attach by terrorist and other criminal gangs in every part of the country. There is no secure region from Lamu to Busia and Mandera to Turkana .
There is a general guideline that insecurity anywhere in the country is insecurity everywhere. One of the remedial actions to address insecurity in the county was to increase the population of the police force to meet international standards of policing ratio of 1:400 and consequently increase the strength of the fighting force through national wide police recruitment exercise.
The government was to recruit 10,000 recruits and due to prevailing unemployment conditions in the county, it was reported more 100,000 highly motivated, educated, able bodied and physically fit Young Kenyans turned up in large numbers for the recruitment exercise.
This was a golden opportunity to seek for the very best from every county’s recruitment centres and the key parameter should have been meritocracy, health and patriotism. Unfortunately this was not to be, the police recruitment exercise nationally was a sham, speculation are rife, that the exercise was devilled with corruption and those recruited were the highest bidders. The bribe was between Ksh 100,000 to ksh 300,000. Medical test and other unorthodox means were used to knockout those who were genuinely qualified and could not pay the desired bribe.
The National Police Service Commission Act established a civilian board to oversee recruitment and appointments of police officers, review standards and qualifications, and receive complaints from the public under the chairmanship Mr. Johnson Kavuludi this commission in its recent report vindicated the process of the police recruitment as free and fair yet, the Ethic and Anticorruption Commission(EACC) indicated in their recent report that the police recruitment exercise was full of extortion, bribery , favoritism, nepotism ,discrimination and outright violation of the procedures and the law.
The EACC wanted the National police service commission to audit the whole process because if the exercise was allowed to continue in its current form of credibility crisis, it will grossly erode public confidence in the state institutions and reinforce the current impression that values and ideal embodied in the constitution are in vain.
Corruption in Kenya police service is not a new phenomena, it has been rated many times as among the most corrupt institutions in Kenya by international and local corruption watchdog organizations. What is new is the height in which corruption has being upscale with impunity. Can you image the effects of a scenario, where terrorist organizations and other criminal gangs taking advantage of the opportunist corrupt security officials to recruit 5,000 or more extremist in to the police force nationally and train them at public expense annually. If the recruitment slots are for sale, what will prevents criminals and extremist from joining the security forces to destabilize the country from within?
Kenya is in the midst of an ambitious police reform programme, this ambitious framework for police reform is anchored in this new constitutional dispensation, if fully Implemented would overhaul the structure of the police force to address shortcomings which permit and perpetuate impunity and corruption in the police.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority Act, which established as an oversight authority mandated to deal with complaints against the police, conduct disciplinary and criminal investigation and set new standards of conduct for the police slept on the job in the recent police recruitment exercise which was a complete letdown of the expectation of Kenyans in this new constitutional dispensation. The lack of progress in implementing the reform agenda increases the risk of human rights abuses and limits the preparedness of the police to handle such abuses in a fair and effective manner as witnessed in the recent operation in Eastleigh Nairobi County.
Kenya has struggled for many years with endemic impunity at various levels of governance and widespread police corruption. The Waki Commission made a number of recommendations calling for wide ranging reform of the police, and the creation of an effective system of police accountability. There has been little movement towards bringing the corruption in the police to account.
Too many Kenyans have yet to see the impact promised by the reform package, including improvements to their basic safety and security. The reaction of the Kivuludi’s commission of appointing another commission to investigate the much discredited police recruitment exercise is to hoodwink the public and the old KANU regime tactics of gaining short term relieve to the mounting public pressure.
The recruitment exercise of any security agent must be devoid of corruption and beyond reproach. In the event of the slightest doubt, the whole exercise should be repeated and those recruiting officers should face the full force of the law. The Steps taken must be acknowledged by the public as a means to the implementation of the much needed police reforms and the desired meaningful change in the manner in which Kenya is policed.
Wajir County is one of the counties most affected in this unprecedented level of corruption. This police recruitment exercise must be cancelled in its entirety and repeated national wide. Mr. Kivuludi’s commission should be disbanded for condoling corruption because security and corruption are incompatible.
The Writer is a university lecturer and a retired senior military officer, Moyuelmi2004@gmail.com.